Do you know how to hypnotize your customers? The first line in your sales letter, the “Subject” line in your email, the title of your blog post, and the first line in your ad campaign has to grab them by the eyeballs and entertain, fascinate, educate or create curiosity. (That headline up there got you reading this whole paragraph, didn’t it?)

If you can craft lines that get those kinds of responses from your customers, they’ll hang to hear more of your words, read your pearls of wisdom, listen to your offer, click the “Buy” button or pass your information on to their friends. Aren’t all those goals in your marketing strategy?

How to Break Through the Clutter with Your Headlines

A few headline ideas to get you in the attention-capturing mode.

  • Give people something to talk about. Everyone likes to tell stories, the more controversial, entertaining or interesting the better. Start your headline with something like, “You’re Never Going to Believe This…”
  • Reveal a hidden benefit. Give people more than they expect. “Homeowners Insurance Isn’t Just for Homeowners”
  • Announce something new. The word “new” is one of the most powerful words in advertising. “A New Technology Only Small Businesses Can Benefit From”
  • Use puns. Headlines that play on words can make a website memorable with a clever idea and as a sales pitch. “Advice to Wives Whose Husbands Don’t Save Money – By a Wife”
  • Talk taboo. Headlines that reveal a trade secret or confront a taboo can make the website look refreshingly honest. “Your Parents Probably Did This in the Bedroom”
  • Use Humor. “Infrequently Asked Questions”
  • Use a quote. A message of endorsement or testimonials from authorities can make good headlines. “This is real stuff for real people.” Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben &Jerry’s Ice Cream.
  • Create drama.  Everyone loves a good scandal. “How Loan Modifications are Strangling the Real Estate Industry”
  • Give a list of reasons. “100 Reasons Why You Need to Call Bixa Media”
  • Use one or two syllable words. Get to the point. Keep it simple. “Stop Snoring. Save Your Marriage”
  • Reveal facts. Readers like statistics: the more impressive, the more attention. “84% of College Students Have Credit Card Debt – Fortune Magazine”. Make sure you can back it up. Cite the source.
  • Write your headline for one person. Write like you’re reader is a friend. “Some Information Just for You…”

Keep your headlines short. Three to six words is the ideal length. Target ten as the maximum. Anything shorter will not supply enough information. Anything longer will bore the reader before they even make it to the substance of your communication.

Get creative, and turn these ideas into ones that apply to your own business.

Don’t Forget Search Engine Happiness

One important point on headlines and search engines:

Make your headline search engine-friendly. Major search engines give high relevance to the first few words you use in the title. They also display only up to 10 words in their search engine result pages. You don’t want your title to get cut off in mid-sentence.

It doesn’t matter what you’re using to market, advertise, communicate or educate to consumers. Your headlines will either get the attention of the audience you’re after, or they’ll hit delete before you have the chance to…